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Guide to U.S. Naval History
Organizations, Programs, and Resources

Chapter 5: Non-Governmental Supporters of U.S. Naval History

Historic Naval Ships Association
c/o U.S. Naval Academy Museum
118 Maryland Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21402-5034
Voice: 410-293-2109 (executive secretary)
Web site:

The Historic Naval Ships Association was founded in 1966. Today its 98 Fleet Member museums promote the preservation and exhibition of more than 150 Navy, Coast Guard, Army, and Merchant Marine ships and craft. The association's vessels, taken together, are now considered to be the third largest fleet in the world. They include four aircraft carriers, nine battleships, seven cruisers, thirteen destroyers, more than thirty submarines, gunboats, liberty ships, corvettes, minesweepers, and other craft. The ships are located in coastal ports, lakes and rivers in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Russia. A number of them are operational, so to visit any one of them is to experience living, interactive history. Many saw action during World War II and continued in service during the Cold War era off the coasts of Korea and Vietnam. One can see, smell, touch, and hear the ships much as they were when their crews took them to sea and put them in harm's way in defense of their nation.

The Historic Naval Ships Association facilitates the exchange of information and provides for mutual support among those who are maintaining their ships both physically and financially. History has benefited from these men and women, many of whom are volunteers dedicating their time, energy, and experience to maintain and show these mighty ships. The preservation and restoration of hulls, decks, fittings, engines, machinery, and armament are monumental tasks in these living memorials. Visitors and volunteers are always welcome at these ships. The Association meets with other organizations with common interests in preserving our maritime heritage. They include the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, World Ship Trust, National Maritime Alliance, National Park Service, Maritime Administration, National Maritime Historical Society, and Canadian National Historic Sites Directorate. The association publishes the Historic Naval Ships Visitors' Guide; a quarterly newsletter, Anchor Watch; and an Individual Member brochure.

International Journal of Naval History
Web site:

The International Journal of Naval History provides an online forum for the publication and dissemination of scholarly works related to the historical experience of the world's navies. IJNH promotes the study of naval history by historians worldwide. The journal is published quarterly by a non-affiliated organization (although administratively supported by the U.S. Naval Historical Foundation) composed of three editors and an editorial board of no more than eighteen renowned naval historians. Presented in English (a native-language version of an article or essay can be published alongside the English-language version) articles cover naval operations, strategy, technology, social issues, and other topics from all eras of human history. The works are expected to make a fresh contribution to historical knowledge. Before being presented in the IJNH, each article is selected by the editors from those submitted, reviewed by members of the editorial board, and then sent to subject-experts for a final, anonymous review. The staff of the IJNH also seeks scholarly reviews of newly published works in naval history.

Navy League of the United States
2300 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201-3308
Voice: 703-528-1775
Fax: 703-528-2333
Web site:

The Navy League of the United States was founded in 1902 with the encouragement of President Theodore Roosevelt. The Navy League is unique among military-oriented associations in that it is a civilian organization dedicated to the education of our citizens, including our elected officials, and the support of the men and women of the sea services and their families. The objective and purpose of the Navy League is educational and motivational. The Navy League works closely with the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and US-flag Merchant Marine through a network of over 330 councils in the United States and around the world to educate Americans about their naval and maritime forces. The Navy League has nearly 75,000 active members. The Navy League supports America's young people through its youth programs, including sponsorship of the US Naval Sea Cadet Corps, the Navy League Scholarship Program, and the Samuel Eliot Morison Essay Contest. Individual councils are also involved in promoting youth-oriented activities in their communities such as NJROTC, MCJROTC, and NROTC units along with other recognized youth programs. Local councils and national headquarters provide over $25,000 scholarships and awards every year.

The Navy League sponsored the production and donation to the naval service of "Our Navy Story," a one-hour documentary depicting the 225-year history and heritage of the U.S. Navy. The Navy League also publishes Sea Power magazine, which contains interviews, news, and features on the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, NOAA, Maritime Administration, and Merchant Marine. Each issue of Sea Power includes at least one article on an historic topic. The January issue, Almanac of Seapower, is an expanded edition that, among other topics, describes the current ships, aircraft, and weapons of the sea services.

Naval Order of the United States
Post Office Box 2714
Merrifield, VA 22116-2714
Voice: 703-323-0929
Web site:

The mission of the Naval Order of the United States is to encourage research and writing on naval and maritime subjects; preserve documents, portraits and other records of prominent figures; deeds and memories of our naval and maritime history; and through fellowship of our members advance the Naval Order's unselfish service and worthy aims for the security and enduring well-being of our country. To foster, among all American citizens, informed interest in the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine, with the understanding that their efficiency is essential to national security and that readiness to make victory in war certain and speedy will deter aggression and minimize dangers to world peace.

The Naval Order is believed to be the oldest continuous naval history and heritage society in the United States. From its beginning in 1890, the Order has had a dedicated interest in Naval History and has encouraged its recording and preservation. The Order has a provision for membership based upon lineal descent, which ensures a strong continuing interest in the deeds and accomplishments of companions and their forebears in perpetuity. The Order's linkage of present companions with their predecessors forges a common bond of responsible, honorable service to our country.

The Naval Order's Commanders General include Admiral of the Navy George Dewey, Rear Admiral Reginald Belknap, Vice Admiral William Reed, Admiral J.J. "Jocko" Clark, and many others. Our Distinguished Companions have included two Presidents of the United States, several Secretaries of the Navy, a majority of the Chiefs of Naval Operations, many of the U.S. Marine Corps Commandants, all of the Fleet Admirals, and many, many more.

Membership is open to "any United States citizen who has served or is serving as an officer or enlisted member of the Navy, Marine Corps, the Coast Guard and any other federal military maritime service of the United States or its allies and their descendants over 18 years of age, who are U.S. citizens, shall be eligible for Regular membership. . . . Spouses of present and deceased regular members, and those, other than United States citizens who have served or are serving honorably as commissioned officers in an allied seagoing service; naval historians and others with a deep interest in naval history and heritage, shall be eligible for associate membership. Also, the Naval Order may confer either associate or honorary membership upon individuals who are not otherwise eligible for regular or associate membership, if they have distinguished themselves in the interest of naval service." Membership in the Naval Order is by invitation. Interested parties may make application through any companion or by contacting the Naval Order at the above telephone number or e-mail address.

North American Society for Oceanic History
P.O. Box 18108
Washington, DC 20036
Web site:

The North American Society for Oceanic History was created by the common agreement of a number of prominent maritime scholars who met in 1973 at the University of Maine. They recognized that in North America there was no forum for maritime history or a society devoted to the study and promotion of maritime history. Successive meetings were held in Maine and Annapolis, Maryland. Encouraged by a little money and a lot of enthusiasm, Clark Reynolds, John Lyman, Philip Lundeberg, Jeffery Safford, Cy Hamilton, Eric Allaby, William Baker and others launched NASOH officially by incorporating it in Maine in 1974. An organizing committee was formed, a constitution drawn up, and in 1976 officers were selected.

Over one hundred members, principally Canadians and Americans, constituted the membership. Under the leadership of William A. Baker, a distinguished naval architect and curator of the Hart Nautical Museum at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and vice-presidents W.A.B. (Alec) Douglas (Directorate of History, Canadian Forces), Jack Kemble (Pomona College), John H. Parry (Harvard University), and Secretary-Treasurer Clark Reynolds (University of Maine; U.S. Merchant Marine Academy), the Society began its annual meetings. Sites for these meetings are always important for their maritime and historical significance. A meeting was held during a howling March blizzard at the Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. The U.S. Naval Academy was host for the meeting at Annapolis in 1978, and in succession each spring came meetings at the Mariners' Museum at Newport News; Halifax, Nova Scotia: Cleveland, Ohio, hosted by the Great Lakes Historical Society; Charleston, South Carolina at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum aboard the USS Yorktown; Mystic Seaport; the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York; Salem, Massachusetts at the Peabody Museum, and at the Rosenburg Library in Galveston, Texas in 1986.

Recent conference sites have included San Diego, California; Lake George, New York; Mobile, Alabama; and Honolulu, Hawaii. The original organizers wanted to create a diverse organization based initially on Canadian and American membership, which would gain the interest of others. Now there are over 200 members including those based in Australia, Canada, Britain, France, the United States, and elsewhere. And it is this diversity of membership that continues to make NASOH a unique organization. Since its founding, NASOH has broadened its appeal to include the directors and staffs of maritime museums and leading nautical archaeologists. The society also encourages graduate students to attend and participate in annual conferences. The Chad Smith Travel Grant Fund was established in 2002 to assist students who apply and qualify for paid travel expenses.

Every year, the organization presents prizes in several categories for outstanding books on maritime and naval history. The prizes are named for the late maritime historian John Lyman.

U.S. Naval Institute
291 Wood Road
Annapolis, MD 21402-5034
Voice: 410-268-6111
Web site:

As the independent forum for the sea services, the Naval Institute is a private (not U.S. government), non-profit membership society for U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard professionals and others interested in issues related to national security. Since 1873, through its books, magazines (Proceedings and Naval History), and seminars, the Naval Institute contributes to the nation’s security by providing an open forum where ideas and issues important to the Sea Services in particular and the other military services in general can be advanced. Membership of the Naval Institute is open to those who share a common interest in staying up-to-date on the key issues affecting today’s military.

Photographic Collection

Since the Naval Institute's beginning in 1873, it has acquired photographs and negatives. Currently, the Naval Institute maintains the world's largest private ship and aircraft photo library. The collection provides a record of people, places, weapons, and events in U.S. and foreign military history. The photo archives holds more than 450,000 images. In addition to U.S. Navy ships and aircraft, the collection houses images from the U.S. Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force, as well as foreign militaries. Most of the collection is in black and white, with color available after the mid-1960s.

Oral History Collection

The U.S. Naval Institute's oral history program exists for the purpose of preserving and making available the recollections of Navy and Coast Guard personnel. The Naval Institute tape-records interviews with people who have made history in the naval profession. The interviews are transcribed, annotated, indexed, and bound. Since the inception of the program in 1969, nearly 225 bound volumes have been completed, and interviews have been done to produce dozens more. Typically, the format calls for an entire life history of a career Navy man or woman. There have also been some specialized projects involving early WAVE officers, the Polaris ballistic missile submarine program, Vietnam War prisoners of war, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and the first black naval officers.

Reference Library

The reference library of the U.S. Naval Institute houses approximately 5,500 volumes, bound Proceedings dating back to the 1800s, and bound copies of Naval History. The collection consists of books published by the Naval Institute Press since its creation, books reviewed in Proceedings and Naval History, and books that have been donated. Subject areas include vessels, aircraft, biographies, combat history, and general maritime history.

The U.S. Naval Institute, through its books, Proceedings and Naval History magazines, oral history effort, and other outreach programs has an especially positive impact on the promotion of U.S. naval history and heritage.

U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation
701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Suite 123
Washington, DC 20004-2608
Voice: 202-737-2300
Fax: 202-737-2308
Web site:

The United States Navy Memorial Foundation, founded in 1977, honors all who have served in the sea services and perpetuates their heritage, values, and traditions. Organized as a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, the Foundation is governed by a board of distinguished leaders from the public and private sector. Admiral William Crowe, USN (Ret.) is Chairman of the Board; Rear Admiral Henry C. McKinney, USN (Ret.), is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Navy Memorial Foundation. Although Pierre L’Enfant included a Navy memorial in his plans for Washington, DC, over 200 years ago, it was not until 1977 that real action was taken. Through the inspiration of World War II hero and three-time Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, USN (Ret.), a committee of prominent military and civilian leaders formed the Navy Memorial Foundation, which undertook the creation of the U.S. Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage Center on Pennsylvania Avenue. While building these facilities was its first priority, the foundation adopted a broadly based mission of public outreach and values-based education to honor, preserve and celebrate America's enduring naval heritage. By combining scholarship with granite and bronze, the Navy Memorial Foundation has erected a durable bridge between American citizens and their naval services--past, present, and future.

The Navy Log

The Navy Log records naval service information of present and former members of America's sea services, living or deceased, in whose names contributions have been made for the continuation of the mission of the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation. Approaching an enrollment of a quarter-million names (and tens of thousands of photos), the Log is on continuous display in the Navy Log Room on the Gallery Deck of the Navy Memorial's Naval Heritage Center. The Navy Log can also be viewed on-line at the Navy Memorial's Web site

Education Institute

The Education Institute is responsible for the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation's youth and education programs, historical exhibits, and reference and photographic services. Education programs include the U.S.-Japan Maritime Youth Exchange, a three-week program that takes six American and six Japanese students to naval and historical sites in the two countries; and Navy Heroes, an opportunity for high school students to learn about naval history through direct interaction with World War II veterans. Exhibits covering some 400 square feet of wall space have highlighted such events as the centennial anniversaries of the Submarine Force and the destroyer in the U.S. Navy, as well as the 60th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Education Institute's reference library and archive of some 50,000 photos have assisted veterans, researchers, and documentary and feature film productions.


In conjunction with the Naval Historical Center, Naval Historical Foundation, and similar organizations, the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation hosts conferences, lectures, and ceremonies associated with the history and heritage of the naval services. FDR and the U.S. Navy (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998) and Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. Navy, and the Spanish-American War (New York: St. Martin's Press/Palgrave, 2001), both edited by Edward J. Marolda, are the proceedings of conferences held in the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation's Naval Heritage Center.

21 October 2003